Longford nuns fall victim to property crashFriday, June 8th, 2012
A group of Mercy nuns in County Longford is among the more spectacular victims of the country’s property crash, it has emerged.
The Sisters of Mercy sold their historic Ardagh Demesne in Ardagh, Co Longford for €1.36m, having almost sold it five years ago for €5.25m. At an auction, the order accepted the bid, which was €60,000 above their estate agent’s guide price. Some fifty people attended the auction at the Mullingar Park Hotel and bidding started at €1m and climbed swiftly to the final offer from a solicitor acting in trust for a client.
Auctioneer Paddy Jordan of Jordan Town and Country Estate Agents said the price is reflection the doldrums in the Irish property market, adding that the large number of buildings was a liability rather than an attraction for those interested in the property for its large working farm.
But as far as the nuns were concerned, Mr Jordan said they are, “glad at this point to have brought the sale to a conclusion and they wish the purchaser the very best of luck with the property." The stately home was used not only as a convent but as a home economics college but was put on the market in 2007.
On that occasion, a deal of €5m was made, reportedly to a buyer planning to turn the estate into a luxury hotel, but this fell through and almost immediately, property prices began the collapse which continues to this day. In 2009 a second attempt was made to sell it for around €3.25m but failed.
Ardagh Demesne consists of a 16-bed residence sitting on more than 81 hectares of land and Jordan Estates described it in their brochure as, “a magnificent property steeped in history with a range of splendid features together with two gate lodges, in a wonderful private setting, surrounded by mature parkland and sheltered by an extensive variety of timber set in the tranquil location of the village of Ardagh”.
The main house extends to 1,200m2 “including the original house with porch, hall, conservatory, dining room, drawing room, study, chapel, ballroom and sacristy,” it said.
As well as 16 bedrooms, there is also an extension to the original house, which contains a breakfast room, kitchen, dining area, gymnasium, and dormitory with 16 bedrooms.
The estate even comes with two other houses, gate lodges at the entrance to Ardagh dating from the 19th century, which Jordans say have three bedrooms and are “in good condition throughout.”
The Featherston family lived in Ardagh House from approximately 1703 to 1923, when it was acquired by the Sisters of Mercy, who developed it as a rural home economics college.
The buyers have acquired a farmyard with hay sheds, lean-to’s, silage pits, 750,000L storage tank and cattle handling facilities.
The 86-hectare farm, which had been let on conacre for the last past years, is currently used for grazing purposes, but would be ideally suitable for either dairying or dry stock farmers.
The €20,000 annual EU farm payment that goes with the land on the estate was another factor that prospective buyers of the property had to take into account.
by Fintan Deere